NEW YORK (WKBW) — Governor Kathy Hochul announced New York will lift its mask mandate for businesses and venues as of Thursday, while the mandate will remain in place for schools.
A mask mandate went into place for all businesses and venues in the state on December 13, 2021 in response to what the state called a "winter surge" in COVID-19 rates. Businesses and/or venues that required proof of vaccination to enter were exempt from the mandate. The governor cited several categories of COVID-19 data as reasons why the mandate will be lifted.
The mandate will remain in place for:
- State-regulated health care settings
- State-regulated adult care facilities and nursing homes
- Correctional facilities
- Schools and child care centers
- Homeless shelters
- Domestic violence shelters
- Buses and bus stations, trains and train stations, subways and subway stations, planes and airports
As part of the announcement Hochul said counties, cities and businesses can still chose to require masks if they wish to do so.
Locally, a mask mandate went into place for all public indoor settings in Erie County on November 23, 2021. Tuesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced the county would follow the state's lead on mask mandates.
A mask mandate has been in place in schools since the start of the school year. It was set to expire on February 21 but Hochul announced a plan Wednesday for schools.
Before February break, which happens in most school districts the week of February 21-25, test kits will be sent home with all k-12 students. After break, test kits will again be sent home with k-12 students. In early March an assessment will be made based on the following metrics on what possible new guidelines will be:
- Cases per 100,000
- Percent positivity
- Hospital admissions
- Pediatric hospitalizations
- Global trends
The governor said the decisions were made after consulting with experts and local leaders.